Couple settle with wind farm operators over 'unbearable hum'




The Telegraph




A couple have settled a High Court damages action against the owners and operators of a wind farm they say drove them from their farmhouse home with its ''unbearable'' noise.

A judge was told today the terms of the settlement agreed by tenant farmers Sarah Jane and Julian Davis were strictly confidential.

The couple moved out of Grays Farm in Deeping St Nicholas, near Spalding, Lincolnshire, in December 2006 six months after the eight-turbine wind farm began operating about half a mile from their home.

They blamed the ''whoom whoom whoom'' and the low frequency ''hum'' of giant turbine blades for their exile in a case that was closely watched by the wind farm industry.

They said the ''intolerable'' noise disrupted their sleep, made them feel ill and was so severe that it warranted a reduction in council tax and rendered the £2.5 million farmhouse no longer marketable as a family home. Mr and Mrs Davis were accused of being ''over-sensitive'' to the noise and ''exaggerating and overreacting''.

The couple launched a claim for damages and an injunction against defendants including Fenland Windfarms Ltd and Fenland Green Power Co-operative Ltd.
The long-running hearing was due to resume today, but trial judge Mr Justice Hickinbottom was told the case was settled.

Both sides said in a joint press release: ''The terms of that settlement are strictly confidential, and the parties will not be answering any questions about the terms of that agreement.''

The case was described as being of general importance because hundreds of other families say they have suffered similar disturbance from wind farms up and down the country.

The operators were accused at the start of the High Court hearing earlier this year of trying to impose "a code of silence" on those examining or recording the noise the turbines caused.

The terms of today's settlement mean that details of the how the settlement was reached will remain secret.

The judge said he had been given a copy of the signed agreement - "nobody has seen it other than me, and I am giving it back to you".
When the case was before the court in July, Peter Harrison QC, appearing for former nurse Mrs Davis, 55, and her husband, 46, told the judge: "Wind farms have emphatically not been the source of trouble-free, green renewable energy which the firms promoting and profiting from wind energy would have the general public believe."

The court heard research suggested the complaints relate to the "amplitude modulation" (AM) of the aerodynamic noise from the turbine blades in certain conditions.

Mr and Mrs Davis, who have two grown-up children, were seeking an injunction to bring about modification of the operation of the wind farm, plus £400,000 damages to compensate them for the noise nuisance. Mr Harrison said: "Their lives have been wholly disrupted by that noise."

Alternatively the couple asked for damages plus a "like for like" replacement for their farm home they estimate is worth about £2.5 million.
Mrs Davis emphasised that her wish was to move back from rented accommodation into her home.

The couple said the "horrible" noise problem caused by the 320ft (100m) high turbines could be resolved by removing two of the turbines and limiting the hours of operation of a third.

Their QC told the court that, instead of experiencing trouble-free, green renewable energy when the wind farm started operations, Mr and Mrs Davis faced "an industry operator - a subsidiary of EDF - which has refused to acknowledge the noise their turbines make and the effect that has had on the lives of these claimants".
Instead, the main operator "appears to have tried to impose a code of silence on those examining or recording the noise that these turbines in this location have caused".

Mr Harrison added: "Further, at least until recently when their own recordings and monitoring have finally forced the defendants to acknowledge they are causing problems, their approach has been to try and shoot the messenger".